Notes for Azed 2,520

There are usually one or two points of interest in an Azed puzzle, and here we pick them out for comment. Please feel free to add your own questions or observations on any aspect of the puzzle (including clues not listed below) either by using the comment form at the bottom of the page or, if would prefer that your question/comment is not publicly visible , by email.

Azed 2,520 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3 out of 10 stars (3 / 10)

I felt this one was right in the middle of the difficulty spectrum for plain Azeds – one ‘hidden’, one other clue where the solver didn’t have to look beyond the clue itself, and  a variety of other clues ranging from the straightforward to the fairly tricky. Not as many clues for me to take issue with as last week, but I still managed the odd quibble. Note that (in the online version at least) the clue for 5a is incorrectly numbered as 9, and the enumeration for 13d should be ’10, two words’.

14a Craggy height, one with blunt and notched tip you’ll find us avoiding (5)
Dangerously close to a clue where both the solution and an element of the wordplay are uncommon words, but the construction is neat and anyway the solution is something of a staple in barred puzzles, so I’m not going to dwell on it. To get the answer you need to combine A (‘one’) with RETUSE (‘with blunt and notched tip’) and remove US (“you’ll find us avoiding”).

19a What WI members share, pork pie with fish? Reverse of ‘Yum’ welcomes that (10)
As Ira Gershwin might have put it, ‘Nice word if you can get it’, and you can get it if you put LIE (‘pork pie’) and BRIT (‘fish’) inside YUM reversed.

23a One strong drink I refused for another (4)
Very similar to 14, and again two uncommon words are involved but the solution will be no stranger to regular solvers – as in 14, we have A (‘One’), this time followed by RAKI (‘strong drink’) with the I removed (‘I refused’) to produce a word for another [strong drink].

27a Ungainly lass given bits of wood for old-style folk dance (7)
Enough already with the obscurities leading to an obscurity! Here the ungainly lass is a MOR (a vocative form of ‘mauther’ not given by the OED) and the bits of wood are RICE, the obscurity of the whole being excusable on the grounds that the alternative spelling will be familiar to all solvers.

32a Raise tax in completion of Robert’s designation?(6)
If I’d spotted this clue across a crowded room I’d have known it was one of Azed’s. VAT (the ‘tax’) is contained by ‘E. LEE’, the completion of American Confederate general Robert Edward Lee’s normal designation. His demise in 1870 must have been poorly publicised, since Judy Garland was still waiting for him in the 1940s.

4d Window-frame: make some changes to home with this (4)
Another clue bearing the Azed trademark (though not, I hope, copyright – I’ve written a few similar clues myself) – you can make SOME change to HOME with S AS H.

6d Is he out of wits erring with letters out of order? (10)
OK, perhaps it’s a little bit clunky, but Azed’s constructional skills are evidenced here – it’s one thing for a setter to spot the anagram potential of WITS ERRING, but to work it into a sound &lit clue (where the whole clue stands as the definition of the solution) is a far tougher task.

8d Like polished silver set interspersed with precious stone (6)
The letters of LAY (‘set’) are regularly interspersed with those of GEM (‘precious stone’).

9d I don’t care for particular suits showing characteristic radius round bottom (9)
This is nice, NOTE ‘characteristic’) R (radius) going round RUMP (‘bottom’) to produce a hyphenated word which Chambers is helpful enough to define as ‘someone addicted to calling no-trumps’.

21d End of talks held up midway? Sage may suggest this alternative (7)
Does the wordplay here stand up to microscopic inspection. Probably not. It’s S (‘End of talks’) positioned midway through PARLEY (the ‘talks’ again). Azed seemingly has no thyme for Rosemary.

22d Rich addition to cuisine? One’s restricted in this time of denial (6)
One (this time I rather than A) is restricted in ‘this’, ie the ‘Rich addition to cuisine’ or CREME (Chambers: cream, applied to various creamy substances), a word which inevitably calls to mind Miss Jean Brodie.

24d Cap I park jauntily? Could be a ——— RC restyled (as zucchetto?) (5)
For those who may not be entirely familiar with the composite anagram (Teacher: “Do you know long division?” Bart Simpson: “I know of it”), this type of clue is unusual in that the wordplay does not resolve into the solution, instead the solution must be included in the wordplay. It’s probably easiest to think of it like a mathematical equation where x and y are wordplay elements: in most clues ‘x + y = solution’, but in a composite anagram ‘x + solution = y’. 

An example of a non-&lit composite anagram would be “Nature’s thrilled RA with this air” (4).  The letters of RA plus the solution (‘this air’, ie TUNE) can be rearranged to form NATURE; paraphrasing the clue, it says “NATURE is an anagram of RA together with the solution, another word for which is air”. In a composite anagram &lit, the definition element is omitted – a classic example would be Colin Dexter’s “It’s this Littlewoods could make you” for WELL-TO-DO, where the letters of LITTLEWOODS have the potential to make you ITS WELL-TO-DO. In today’s clue, the letters of CAP I PARK when rearranged (‘jauntily’) could be a restyling of A KIPPA (replacing the blank) RC; without the bit in brackets it would be an example of a ‘comp anag &lit’ (the core of the definition being ‘Cap’), but Azed has seen fit to add ‘as zucchetto’, so the clue includes a definition and is simply a ‘comp anag’. For anyone wanting to better understand, or indeed to write, composite anagram clues, I would advise visiting the splendid archive of successful Azed competition clues to be found on the &Lit site and looking at some past prizewinners (composite anagrams will be clearly identified as such in the clue explanations).

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